Cosmic Ghost Rider #1
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Dylan Burnett
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Evan Maroun
If you haven’t been following the ol’ misadventures of Frank Castle in the Marvel Universe, well allow me to get you up to speed a little. Frank has recently gone and made three deals with three different devils. I do not advise this. The first, with Mephisto, who imbues him with the Spirit of Vengeance. The 2nd, with Galactus, who bestows the Power Cosmic to him in a joint effort to take down Thanos. Finally, with the mad titan himself. Acknowledging his defeat, he accepts becoming Thanos’ right-hand man. That is when Frank is seemingly killed by a Mjolnir-wielding Silver Surfer. Yup, that happened.
Picking up in Valhalla, Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 opens with Frank in a bar fight. Very on brand, I must say. After some snappy dialogue and a quirky contrast set by the beautiful starry skies and rainbow paths of Valhalla, Odin finds Frank. You can tell Cates has a lot of fun with these characters, making the humor shine in this off-beat situation. Once again, if you haven’t been keeping up, Frank has gone from a brooding man of few words to a grey-haired man of many smart-ass ones, and Cates uses this to his advantage.
Personality is one thing this book does not lack. He even offers up Odin with some amusing dialogue, while maintaining a purpose by the end of their meeting. Without spoiling it, Frank finds himself back in the saddle again (cue Aerosmith), and the first thing he sets out to do is go through with one of those points that are always brought up when asked: “What would you do if you could time travel?” and here it works to great effect, even playfully subverting the idea at the final page turn. However, I wish that Cates gave us a little more to go on at the end, so we had some clue where the next issue might be headed.
On display here, we have art from Dylan Burnett. One of the things I think he excels at in particular is portraying facial expressions. I never thought I’d say that about a book starring a typically stoic character like Frank Castle, but now the status quo has changed and he makes it feel fresh in combination with Cates’ dialogue. Another thing he should be lauded for is somehow making the strange cosmic landscapes work. It’s a little jarring at first to see the former Punisher standing by a vivid landscape with rainbow bridges, but I imagine this is just a taste of the things we’ll see juxtaposed as Frank traverses the endless possibility of the cosmos. This is also in thanks to the vibrant colors by Antonio Fabela, which reminds me a bit of Laura Allred’s bold color work at times, which isn’t a bad thing, as it does well to fit this bonkers tale. He offers up enough of a distinctive style in the darker scenes to make it his own.
Verdict: Buy it.
Cates has recently gone on record saying that Cosmic Ghost Rider is “the Craziest @#$% You’ve Ever Seen” and judging by Cosmic Ghost Rider #1, it seems like this path to insanity will be one worth taking.